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Marina Tenants File Bid to Place Cityhood on Ballot

December 26, 1985|JAMES RAINEY | Times Staff Writer

Tenants who hope to form a city in Marina del Rey have filed petitions asking the county to put the incorporation question on the ballot.

Leaders of Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc. Monday presented more than 1,700 signatures to Ruth Bennell, director of the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).

The filing set in motion county consideration of cityhood for the 1,700-acre island of unincorporated territory that lies between the Los Angeles communities of Venice and Playa del Rey.

Marina del Rey activists said more than a year ago that they hoped to form their own city so they could impose a rent control law to replace the county ordinance that expired this year. Reducing crime and limiting high-rise development are also factors in the incorporation drive, organizers said.

The proposal has drawn opposition from powerful political and business interests, including the Board of Supervisors and marina landlords.

Backed Bill

The conservative majority of the Board of Supervisors supported a bill in the state Legislature that would have stopped the cityhood effort. An amended law eventually passed, allowing cityhood proponents to proceed without restrictions as long as they filed petitions before Feb. 15, 1986.

Monday's filing means that the required 1,400 signatures--equal to one-fourth of the registered voters in the marina--should be verified by the county registrar's office before the deadline.

Three months after verification, the county commission will conduct a public hearing and then vote on the cityhood proposal. If the commission approves the plan, the Board of Supervisors must place incorporation on the ballot.

Bennell estimated that next November would be the earliest the question could be put to a vote in the marina.

But securing approval from LAFCO will be difficult. Two members of the seven-member commission, Supervisors Pete Schabarum and Mike Antonovich, already have said they oppose incorporation. Approval requires a simple majority. And Bennell in March issued a preliminary report that said a city of Marina del Rey would lose nearly $2 million in its first year of operation.

Conflict of Interest

Cityhood proponents hope to disqualify Schabarum and Antonovich from the LAFCO vote. They said a state conflict-of-interest law prohibits commission members from voting on an issue if they have received political contributions of $250 or more from people who are affected by their decisions.

Both Antonovich and Schabarum have received such contributions from marina landlords and should be barred from the incorporation vote, cityhood proponents said. But the county counsel said the state law does not apply to LAFCO and that the supervisors will be allowed to vote.

Bennell's preliminary report showed that the city would bring in $3.5 million but spend $5.4 million in its first year. Bennell said nothing has changed to turn the study in favor of cityhood.

"I think the preliminary report was based on sound figures," she said. "I don't anticipate finding $2 million more in revenue to offset the expenses the city will have."

Hy Tucker, the president of the cityhood group, said the organization plans to present a study of its own that will show that a city of Marina del Rey would collect enough money to pay for services. The study, which will cost about $25,000, will be completed by Christenson & Wallace, an Oceanside firm that has written similar reports for Isla Vista and Mammoth Lakes.

Income Underestimated

Cityhood supporter Stuart Simon said the county report greatly underestimated money the city would make on parking and traffic citations and bed taxes from two luxury hotels under construction.

Simon said the report also overstated costs, especially the $3.6-million price tag for police enforcement on land and in the small craft harbor.

Cityhood backers said the boundaries of Marina del Rey should include the 800-acre marina with its 5,800 apartments and 6,000 boat slips, and 900 acres to the south where the Summa Corp. plans to build a huge, $1-bilion planned community called Playa Vista.

The county, however, has already given preliminary approval to the city of Los Angeles to annex the southern portion.

The open fields are owned almost entirely by Summa, and the firm's officials say they want their development to be a part of the City of Los Angeles.

The powerful opponents claim that cityhood is merely a device to extend rent control, which expired in Marina del Rey and other unincorporated parts of the county this year.

Tucker admitted that rent control is important to marina residents, many of whom were hit with large rent increases after controls expired. But he said increases in crime and high-rise development also concern them.

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